I wrote this as part of a series of essays to my daughter. First published on election day, 2012. Re-posting with only minor edits.
This is your first presidential election. You probably aren’t old enough to remember anything about it, though you do know how to say “Obama.” But then again, you also seem to think going to vote has something to do with going on a boat.
As this is your first presidential election, it is also my first presidential election as a mother. This has not changed the way I vote, but it does change my perspective on what is at stake.
The candidates’ views on women and gay rights and equity have always been important to me. But now that I am 50% responsible for a small person who will grow up to become a woman, and whose sexual orientation is not yet known, it throws the choices made today into sharp relief. But even if you were a boy who I knew was going to someday be attracted to girls, this would still matter.
I have seen a lot of misinformation from both sides, but I’m terrified of the side that wants to take rights away from me, my daughter, my friends and their daughters, and all the rest of the women in this country.
Women deserve equal pay. Children deserve to be fed, clothed, and educated… even if their parents are unable to help. Our gay friends deserve the same rights as we do, and I am not just talking about marriage. I’m talking about their ability to be with their loved ones in the hospital, to adopt children, to adopt them together as partners, to get the same benefits that are granted straight married couples.
The economy is the #1 issue for voters right now. But even if I thought the other candidate had better economic policies (which, incidentally, I don’t) I refuse to say that money is more important than the rights of my friends, myself, and other people in my life.
Other people’s religious proclivities should not supersede your rights. Don’t worry, though, there are plenty of strongly religious people who understand this.
I also want to mention the fact that people matter. And someone who is having trouble putting food on their table matters just as much as a rich person. And people who matter deserve to be able to eat healthy food, live in safe conditions, and have access to quality education, even if sometimes they need help to get there.
Anyhow. I thought it might be interesting someday to look back and read what I was thinking just before this election, when you were only two years old. It’s pretty much the same thing I think all of the time. But being your mother has made me think more and more about how glad I am that I am able to attempt to raise a daughter who will know that there are no second-class citizens based on sex, religion, disability, sexual orientation, poverty, race, or age. You’re important, and I’m going to vote like your generation depends on it.